Hand Tool Headlines
The Woodworking Blogs Aggregator
This "aggregator" collects all of the woodworking blogs I read every day - or try to anyway! Enjoy!
Thank you to everyone who contributed towards Walt Quadrato's battle against cancer! Their fundraising goal was met. Our prayers are with you, Walt!
I'd spent some time building the carcass, filling it with some egg crate dividers, and attaching battens around the outside. Last Sunday I started the day in the garage at the table saw hacking up every piece of pine I had in my possession to make the drawer parts. I attached the back and fashioned a french cleat to hang the cabinet from.
Getting in on the wall and off my bench was important to clear up space to work on the drawers.
I sorted out the parts into the drawer spaces and called it a weekend.
Throughout the week I'd spend an hour here and there fitting each drawer to it's opening. I'd plane the pieces to fit side to side and then mark them to length. I'd size the bottom to the opening and use that to dictate the rest of the drawer.
When I'd finish fitting all the pieces in a vertical column, I'd build those drawers before I moved on. No highfalutin dovetails or trick joinery here. On the original the drawers are put together with butt joints, glue and brad nails. I sought to replicate that. Until I had an issue.
I've had a little electric staple gun / brad nailer for around fifteen years. I've had a package of 5/8" brads for it for nearly as long, I knew I was running low but after two drawers I had run out. I took off to the home store to find more and thought I was successful. I brought home several packages of 5/8" brads that listed the make and model number of my little nailer on the box.
Unfortunately I was swindled. The brads were all 1/16th too long to fit into the gun. Though it occurred to me I could file or grind down each group of brads to fit that seemed like needless fussing as well. I returned the brads and resolved myself to use staples instead.
I was disappointed at first. I mean what self respecting woodworker uses staples? After a bit I remembered not to take myself so seriously. After all the original was built from a packing box, in the end, staples seems fitting while in this phase of mass drawer construction. Though they are decidedly less dynamic a fastener.
If repairs come up in the future I'm sure to use whatever odd and end I have on hand.
By Friday night I had finished all the drawers.
Now to play a little.
Shop furniture is the perfect place to experiment, I've wanted to do some work with veneers for a while and here was the perfect place to jump in and learn to swim in the current. I wasn't going to be satisfied with just a straight piece of veneer covering the drawer front. Nope, I had to do some pieces and assembly.
I don't own most of the typical tool kit associated with veneering. I've been collecting it slowly, but there are big pieces missing yet. After taking stock of my options I decided, why should that stop me.
My mother is a quilter, I've watched her do it all my life. Parquetry and marquetry remind me very much of her quilts, Different pieces fitting together for a whole. I know a common quilter trick for repetitive pieces is to make (or buy) a Plexiglas template. I decided to do the same, making two templates for the two drawer sizes.
The templates offered support and rigidity to the veneer, allowing me to cut it to size with a rip and crosscut backsaw.
I cut enough so the outside vertical lines of drawer could have dark colored back grounds and the middle line would be light in color. Several years ago I picked up a couple multi-sample packs of commercial veneer at a woodworking show. There was too much variety to do much significant with so I've just held on to them. but the variety is fun to play with here.
A little while ago I managed to get my hands on the Veritas string inlay system. I have plans for a chest with large line and berry string inlays. I lightly hacked the tool to remove circles from the center of every drawer front by using the string cutting blade and the compass point together.
This allowed me to swap the center dot around and get the same fit repeated over and over. No toothing plane in my repertoire, but I do have a fine toothed gentleman's saw I dislike so I held that at 90 degrees to the surface of the drawer front and used it much like a card scraper and achieving a similar surface effect, (I'd almost forgot this part, a shout out to Freddy Roman who reminded me via Facebook. Thanks man!)
A little warmed Old Brown Glue and into the press vise for a few hours.
Out of the press vise. A little trim and work with a card scraper. I think that will do nicely.
It's an odd pairing, stapled drawer joints and veneer. Let's see what else I can do to mess with this concept and get away with it.
Ratione et Passionis
I don’t have any before pictures, because this beauty came with a type 20/21 frog with the folded lateral, so I wasn’t even going to do anything with it. I changed my mind more just to see how much work it would take, since it was a jack anyhow, I figured it would be ok. I thought it was strange that it had rosewood, but I didn’t think to hard on it.
On closer inspection though, I found this wonderful type 14. Based on the broken tote tip, I would say it was dropped and the original frog busted.
I had the correct frog, so its all back to normal now.
I didn’t do the tote repair, its an old repair which seems very solid. I just sanded it out and refinished, leaving the history intact.
The Tale of the Foul-mouthed Countertop Guy can be viewed through a lot of filters: that of the artisan, the customer, macroeconomics and on and on.
However the lesson embedded in the story has nothing directly to do with haggling, the value of craft or Socialism.
Instead, it is about the word “no.”
Run your business so you always, always have the power to say “no.” No to a supplier, a customer, a request for proposal (RFP), an employee. Never overextend yourself or your business so you are powerless and must say “yes” to the customer who demands an unreasonable price, the supplier who treats you like a gnat, a piece of work that is dangerous, an employee who does not pull his or her weight.
Take away whatever you like from the story, but that was the intended lesson, like it or no. And I do like no (though I’m quite polite when I use the word).
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: Personal Favorites
A customer from Pennsylvania in the US sent me these pictures of a box he's just completed. On the face of it, it's just a standard veneered, rectangular box. But when you open the lid the whole box opens up, fantastic!
The design was inspired by the 19th C craftsman John Betjemann and sons ltd of London. Even the drawer opens by a spring loaded mechanism. All the mechanisms were made totally by hand and completely hidden within the structure of the box.
The mirror inside the lid is removable.
Here's the hand made rear hinge and detail of the edging.
Brice's next project is a four drawer chest with six automatically opening compartments as well as a 72 note musical movement. I will post the pictures when they come through although it may be some while off yet!
We have sold out of “By Hand & Eye” but are working on getting that title back to the printer immediately. If you need the book, check out some of our retailers; many still have the book in stock. We should have the title back in stock – the fourth printing! – by early February.
In other “By Hand & Eye” news, authors Jim Tolpin and George Walker are working on a fascinating “workbook” supplement to “By Hand & Eye.” Written and illustrated like your grammar-school workbooks, it will take you through the exercises to open up your designer’s eye. The authors have been sharing the early drafts with me, and it’s going to be fun. Look for that in 2015.
We are down to our last box of Christian Becksvoort’s “With the Grain.” A third, revised edition is at the printer and should be in stock in early February. For the third printing, Becksvoort added 10 species of trees to the chapter on identifying the different North American commercial species, including the most important Western trees.
If you have the current edition, you can download the pages of the 10 species for free here:
The revised edition will be slightly more expensive because we had to add a signature to the book block.
And in sweatshirt news: We are sold out of 2XL and Large sizes. We are almost out of all the other sizes. We will restock in January with a new brand of USA-made sweatshirt – same color and same logo. These will be about $4 more – a significant increase.
John and I are juggling about a dozen new books right now. Here is what is on the front burner this minute. I don’t have any details on prices on these products, I’m afraid:
“Chairmaker’s Notebook” by Peter Galbert is being designed by Linda Watts. She has the first 10 chapters designed and the book will go to press in January for a February 2015 release.
“Virtuoso: The Tool Cabinet and Workbench of H.O. Studley” by Don Williams is written, edited and headed to design in early January. It will be released in March or April – right before Handworks.
“Roubo on Furniture” is translated, edited and awaiting design. Look for it this summer.
Lots more in the works, of course.
— Christopher Schwarz
Filed under: By Hand & Eye, Chairmaker's Notebook by Peter Galbert, Products We Sell, Virtuoso: The Toolbox of Henry O. Studley, With the Grain
I had a little time after work yesterday and decided to rough out a second handle for the backsaw project. I made the first one in some dark Claro Walnut, but I was concerned that I would screw it up when cutting the slot or doing the final shaping of contours. So I decided to cary a spare along through the process.
This one is also Claro, but it’s a marbled color with an interesting spray of figure. I slabbed it out of a turning block I picked out of a sale bin years ago, I can only get one handle as there is a crack in the block. It’s too bad because this one has some great color.
On the second handle I used the scroll saw to profile it after drilling the holes. This worked a bit better than the bandsaw cuts as there was less waste to clean up. Both methods work fine, but I like having to do less rasp work to get the the lines on the pattern.
From here, the next step is the scary slotting of the handle for the saw plate. It actually turned out not to be a big deal, maybe the saw gods were watching over me. I used a marking gauge to scribe a centerline where I wanted to cut, then used another saw to start the key all the way around to a depth of about 1/8″. Then I worked the kerf deeper and before I knew it I was watching to see that I hit the stop marks for depth.
On the first handle I used my 14ppt crosscut saw, I know this is a rip cut but I was concerned that the narrow very my dovetail saw leaves would be too thin for the saw plate. I didn’t saw quite as perfectly as I’d like, there are a couple of spots where the teeth gouged the side of the keep making the opening look slightly uneven. But it’s centered and straight and functional.
For the second blanks I used my trusty dovetail saw. I cut a nice crisp slot with no tear out…that was too tight for the saw plate. So I re-sawed the kerf with the crosscut saw and that opened it up just enough to fit the saw back.
Once I get some coffee I’ll head out to the shop and do the next step — which is to fit the saw plate and back to the handle. The saw plate need to be clipped to set against the back of the slot, and I need to layout and cut the mortise for the bronze back. With that done I’ll be able to fit the fasteners, and do the final shaping on the handle. This should go relatively quickly, although I’m already wishing I hadn’t said that out loud.
Just in case something goes amiss and neither of these handles work out, I picked up a couple of scraps of wood at Global Wood Source in Santa Clara. These will also be useful “just in case” everything goes well and I decide I need to build a bunch more saws to fill the gaps in my saw till.
One is tiger stripe figured Honduran Mahogany, the other is Granadilo. The Granadilo is a South American wood that is used as a tone wood in guitars. It’s heavy, and the coloring looks like East Indian Rosewood to me.
Rough Shaping the Handle
Roughing the handle in — that is, getting the handle contours cut and smoothed — is pretty basic stuff. It helps a lot to have a nice pattern to glue to the wood and use as a guide. I wanted to share the sources for handle patterns that I’ve found:
Blackburn Tools offers saw handle templates for the kits they sell, these are slick because they are all available is different hand sizes. Isaac also has scans of actual handles for a number of vintage saws.
Wenzloff and Sons have several patterns available on their site. They used to sell kits and parts, but they have reduced their line and I’m not sure how active they are in saw making these days.
Two Guys In A Garage, which is a great and unpretentious name, have a nice selection of patterns for many different vintage saws, including one for the Disston saw in my Millers Falls miter box. Hmmm… They also have parts for building saws including folded backs.
Tools for Working Wood sells a nice looking dovetail saw kit, their instruction packet includes a pattern for the handle and tips of cutting the slot and mortising for the saw back.
Darrel Peart builds custom furniture, inspired by the style of Greene & Greene in Seattle, Washington. He also teaches several classes a year in his shop. Before becoming an independent furnituremaker, Darrell worked in the custom cabinet industry. He is the author of two books, “Greene & Greene: Design Elements for the Workshop” and “In the Greene & Greene Style: Projects and Details for the Woodworker” in addition to numerous magazine articles.
Click Here to Visit Darrell Peart’s Website where you see examples of his work, purchase his books and sign up for a class.
Furnituremaker Darrell Peart discusses the methods he uses to build beautiful custom furniture efficiently (and profitably) from a small shop. It isn’t all about tools and equipment, it’s also about attitudes and good habits.
This article is the third release of our first issue, and is available for free.
This is the type of in depth content that will be available to our subscribers in 2015.
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Regardless of whether you’re a fan of Festool or not, all these videos are inspiring in their own way. As woodworkers and craftspeople we tend to see beauty in places and ways others don’t, so when we see individuals who are just as passionate about their craft as we are, it stokes the fires in our soul and drives us to create.
Sit down, take a moment and enjoy the beauty that unfolds in each video. Set aside any feelings you may have about them being a commercial for a tool brand and appreciate the artist sharing their craft, because in reality, sometimes it is about the tools enabling the individual to do more.
Winter is here in Ohio. And staying warm in the shop these days relies on three things, a kettle heater, a small electric heater and movement, which is critical. Without two of those three things happening at the same time, the headlines might well read, “elderly man found frozen to death in shed.”
One of the unfinished projects that I am sworn to complete this winter is a pair of sack back Windsor chairs. A critical element of the project is shaving spindles. The good news is that the movement required to make the spindles warms old bodies. The bad news is that shaving spindles is a skill and skills must be renewed if they’re not being used on a daily basis. So, its on to the shave horse and practice, practice, practice. The spindles that don’t make the grade could be used as rudimentary pointers, riding crops (if I owned a horse) or wonderful fire starters.
I know how to use a draw knife. But I thought that it would be a good idea to check the work of a master Windsor chair builder before wasting a lot of material. There are a lot of great Windsor chair builders at the moment. But one, at least for me, shines above all others, Curtis Buchanan. Buchanan’s craftsmanship is nonpareil. And, more importantly, he is the embodiment of what (I believe) a true craftsman should be, the combination of expertise, humility and charity. If you’re interested in Windsor chairmaking, you probably already know about Curtis Buchanan. If you’re just getting started, you couldn’t find a better model.
Curtis has made available a series of videos showing the entire construction of a comb back Windsor. If this is new territory for you, watch all the videos. If you just need a little refresher in one given area, you’ll find that Curtis has broken down the series in to easily identifiable segments. And, whatever your need, listen to what Curtis has to say about life and craft. Obviously, the man is a practical philosopher as well as a master Chair Maker.
My years spent both as an electrician and in electrical sales have taught me something about customer service. Customer service is much more than a friendly demeanor, or a reassuring voice; first and foremost, customer service is about getting the job done correctly and on time. I’ve found that all of the friendly smiles and kind words in the world don’t really mean shit if you can’t do the job.
So with tomorrow being my wedding anniversary, I thought I would surprise my wife with a nice flower arrangement, balloons, and some chocolates sent to her office. Normally for our anniversary we like to go to a nice restaurant, but because a member of my wife’s family has been experiencing some health issues, those plans had to be cancelled. On Monday I went on the 1-800-FLOWERS web site and placed the order, figuring that four days should be more than enough lead time to make a local flower delivery. To its credit, the process was easy. From what I gather, 1-800-FLOWERS is a network of affiliated florists, and a flower shop near my wife’s office was contracted to do the arrangement and delivery. I received a confirmation e-mail which said that on the morning of the delivery I would receive an email notifying me when the delivery left the florist, and then another notification of delivery. I printed the confirmation and went on with my day.
Today, the day which the delivery was supposed to be made, I began to get a little nervous by around 2pm when I hadn’t received a notice of shipment from the florist. By 3pm, I had decided to call 1 800 FLOWERS customer service, as my wife’s office, like most offices, is open from 8am-430pm. A customer service representative, from the far east, who was very friendly, called the flower shop and did indeed find that the arrangement had not left the shop yet. I explained to the customer service agent that my wife would be leaving work soon, and he asked if I would like the delivery to be sent to my house. I was okay with that, and once again he put me on hold to speak to the florist. A few minutes later he was back and explained that because my house was more than 10 miles from the florist, and because it was a Friday, they really didn’t want to make the delivery there, BUT, they would get the flowers to my wife by 430 pm at her office, and they would give me a phone call when they left for the delivery. 430 came and went, so I called my wife and asked her if she received a flower delivery, thus ruining the surprise, she had not. I called customer service again and was told that they were running a little late, and they would be there shortly. The excuse being that because of the holidays they were busy and unable to make deliveries on time, which is sort of like a restaurant telling customers not to show up around dinner time because they just can’t get the food cooked. Anyway, 45 minutes comes and goes and no delivery, and at this point my wife has to leave.
I called up 1 800 FLOWERS yet again and told them to cancel the order. After the customer service rep spent 5 minutes trying to convince me to reschedule the delivery, I began to get angry, as in very angry. At this point, I told them to cancel it or there would be a problem. I was put on hold for 15 minutes, which didn’t do much to make me any happier, and the order was finally cancelled.
I’ve experienced some bad customer service in my life, we all have, but this was by far one of the worst experiences. Several very nice emails I sent this morning inquiring about my order went unanswered, and it was only until I made threats that I finally got a miniscule amount of help. So I would like to go on record thanking 1 800 FLOWERS for royally fucking up my surprise and nice gesture, and then completely dropping the ball after the fact. So would I recommend 1 800 FLOWERS? No, I wouldn’t. They fucking suck balls.
In considering my thoughts on sharpening stones I should point out that this does not include sharpening plates because they do retain acceptable flatness tolerances throughout their life and cut steel well too. Sharpening stones of every other type on the other hand have the same inherent problems resulting through varied levels of wear. My experience using them through the decades has given me some insights that might help those who decide not to use diamond sharpening plates for whatever reason and not the least of which is cost.Two irons with different bevels, one freehand honed for a longer elliptical bevel and the other fixed at 30-degrees in a honing guide.
I suppose first off I might start by asking you the same question I asked myself some years back. Is it necessary to continue applying the large flat face of any tool to abrasive surfaces once the initial flattening, abrading, refining and final polishing is completed? That is, you bought chisels and planes and spokeshaves and put them through this initialisation process, why would you need to abrade what is already polished to perfection? The answer is generally no. In fact, applying the flat face to the abrasive stones only damages the polished work you took the trouble to establish in the first place. That being the case then the stones will be used only for the continued abrading of the bevel alone. If that’s so, it seems to me that the main reason we want straight and flat surfaces is less necessary as we want them more for truing than general sharpening. For general sharpening, to create a cutting edge for woodworking tools, we abrade and polish two faces to an equal level to maximise the sharpness of the edge itself. Both faces are not sharp but polished. On knives, axes and some other tools, the cutting edges are generally formed using two equally sized faces. These tools rely on our polishing out both large surfaces to an equal level and so are generally sharpened from both sides on a continuing basis. For woodworking tools, once the larger flat face is polished, we focus our sharpening on the smaller bevel face alone because abrading and polishing this face gets us to the cutting edge the fastest and easiest and it’s totally unnecessary to repolish the large face because the face retains its refined flatness indefinitely. That being the case, the question must then be asked, why do we need to flatten the stone for so small or narrow a face? Were we to need to abrade and polish the large face every time or even occasionally, then keeping the stone flat makes sense, but that’s not necessary here at all.A curved but not dished sharpening stone.
Now even on severely curved stone surfaces, where pushing the cutting edge back and forth creates a cambered bevel, the cutting edge will cut perfectly well. If you are persuaded to use micro-bevels, even though this makes no particular sense to me, you can still add a micro-bevel to the edge just as well as you might using a flat stone. The curve to the bevel and the micro-bevel, the camber if you will, will be at the very least as effective as when perfectly flat. There is no discernible difference.
So, that being the case, the only thing that a curved stone surface denies you is using the stone for flattening the large faces, which we have now established you generally have no need of. OK, then that brings me to the next question. What is flat and how do you know if what you are creating is indeed flat? It seems all the more mysterious to me that the only advocates for the need for dead flatness are those selling flattening stones and related equipment. For instance. If your stone is designed and made to abrade, then whatever you use to abrade the abrading stone is surely being compromised by that abrasive and that abrasive process. Doesn’t that then becomes round or bellied? So now we have a sort of push-me-pull-you experience where one thing compromises the other. If we get the fact that we no longer need to have flat bevels and flat stones then we eliminate the problem, but no one as yet has ever been convincing enough to cause me to give up what gives me topnotch surgically-sharp edges freehand in no more than a minute.The convexed camber has a straight edge but cambered bevel that starts at 30-degrees for the first 2-3mm and then drops off into a long camber away from the edge.
Is it obsessional or compulsive activity to spend more time flattening than sharpening and more time doing both than actually working wood? I think first you must establish what it is you are personally looking for. If it’s owning a sharp chisel or plane that’s one thing, if it’s to get fine shavings it’s another and if it’s to get fine cuts on the surfaces you work resulting from the cutting edge then that’s a combinational result of all three. Personally I think that’s what people start out looking for, but then there were often distractions along the way. Where such heightened sharpening activity developed such central prominence from to me seems obvious. People, woodworkers, were searching for a missing ingredient resulting from an all the more obsessive period in woodworking history. In the USA especially, woodworking became mostly a wood machining process where every step was machine made and hand tools were almost unused. For several decades more and more woodworkers were using hand tools less and less and the simplest techniques like sharpening, techniques just about everyone knew of automatically, were indeed lost or at least dormant. During that period of dormancy, a breach in continuity if you will, from when men that knew the intricacies of sharpening without shaving the back of their hands and arms, writers, advertisers, editors and teachers found an open forum to play the field and became the new authority. Instead of following the advice of a famed US President “to question authority.”, everyone welcomed this new authority and so we followed their ideas. Some were good, some bad and some unnecessary. Somehow what may well have been just an innocent presentation of a new and alternative method or indeed methods somehow displaced centuries of solid, down to earth working knowledge. Thanks to Google, you don’t have to dig very deeply these days to really find out what valued experience and knowledge people really have. Seeing people searching for answers helps me prepare answers like the ones I’ve tried to pen here. In two minutes at the bench I can indeed pass on the answers. It takes hours of writing to explain the differences.
I am almost done with this I think. One more blog should do it I think.
One of the directors of a local commercial wood yard asked if was interested in a board of burr oak. As it stands I have enough timber to last me 10 years or more, but a board this nice was too good to refuse! It measures 9" wide x 46" long x 2" thick and is nice and dry.
We agreed a swop for a dovetail guide and a Lignum mallet which left both of us happy.
On a completely different note I've also bought this old Junior Whitehead band saw dating back to around 1950. Although it's only a small machine just 40" high I had to remove the door and cast iron table before I could lift it and even then it was a real struggle. They don't make them like that anymore!
HOW TO BUILD A TRADITIONAL DESK WITH WOODWORKING HAND TOOLS
In this series of videos you can follow me as I build a historic hinged-top desk for my sons, as a Christmas gift. The best part is that they’ve helped me build it! You can see the list of tools that I used at the bottom of this page.
- See how to cut through-dovetails here or here
- See how to cut half-lap dovetails here
- See how to plow grooves for the desk bottom here
TOOLS THAT I USED:
Even though I have a helpful hand tool buying guide (here), I’m still often asked for a list of and links to the tools that I use in my videos, so here is a list of tools that I used in this series of video on desk building (I also included tools that I used in construction that wasn’t in the video):
- Sjoberg Elite 2500 Beech Workbench (with optional tool cabinet)
- Moravian Workbench (portable and sturdy)
- Gramercy Holdfast
- Lie-Nielsen Low Angle Rabbet Block Plane
- Lie-Nielsen No. 62 Low Angle Jack Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 71 Router Plane
- Lie-Nielsen No. 73 Large Shoulder Plane
- Vintage Stanley No. 4-1/2 Smoothing Plane
- Vintage Beading Plane
- Vintage Wooden screw arm Plow plane
- Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw
- Lie-Nielsen’s thin plate 16″ Tenon Rip Saw
- Lie-Nielsen cross cut back saw
- Vintage Millers Falls Miter box and miter saw
- Robert Larson Coping Saw
MARKING & MEASURING:
- Starrett 6-inch combination square
- Vintage metal try square
- Vintage sliding bevel square
- Vintage Starrett Dividers / Compasses
- Veritas Wheel Marking Gauge or Veritas Dual Wheel Marking Gauge
- Lie-Nielsen panel gauge
- Wooden Straight Edge
- Vintage Stanley No. 62 Folding Rules (24″)
- Marking knife (chip carving knife)
- Staedtler Mars 780 Technical Mechanical Pencil
MALLETS & HAMMERS:
CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SEE ALL THE FOLLOWING VIDEOS OF THIS DESK CONSTRUCTION!